The world of beekeepers has been buzzing thanks to the arrival of hacking. You wouldn’t normally find beekeeping and hacking under the same category, but it’s turning out to be a pretty sweet relationship.
Beekeeping is a millennia-old craft and there’s a bucket load of knowledge and advice to go with it. A variety of forums provide a delightful honey pot of information for novices and experts, but a recent project has created an invaluable tool for monitoring bee hives.
Just as with any living creature, bees need a good home to survive. This means that they need an environment containing all their needs to live. The temperature and humidity of a bee hive is incredibly important. For instance, the temperature can be an excellent indicator of the health of a colony of bees. The temperature can also provide other useful information, like when the bees are about to swarm.
Although many people believe that cold weather can be devastating to bee colonies, bees are actually efficient thermoregulators in a non-extreme climate. But what can be devastating is dampness.
To regulate these 2 important ingredients for a healthy, happy bee hive, 'marccurtis' from TMW Labs has designed and created a self-contained monitoring platform that records the temperature and humidity of hives.
The platform is based on an Arduino Duo system with a DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor. The system is solar panel-powered, making it ideal for its outdoor purpose. The system has an entire list of functions:
- Alerts the beekeeper via SMS or email if the sensor readings stray beyond specific parameters
- Records the total weight of the hive as an indicator of brood size and honey quantity
- Monitors activity through the hive entrance
- Records the frequency of the buzz of the hive
- Detects movement caused by disruption of the hive by the wind or vandalism
TMW Labs still have a few adjustments to make, and they say that they’re planning to design a system with greater finesse by next spring. Code for the Arduino can be found here. And, with a little bit of sunshine to power the system, this platform delivers a wonderful way of hacking and monitoring a colony of happy bees.